After a sleepless Saturday night on a scout hut floor I was up early to get to Dorking for the Mole Valley National Event. The bussing out to White Downs and Netley Heath ran very smoothly and I had half an hour to warm-up and investigate the delightful portaloos that had been pushed over during the night!
I started well enough but it wasn’t long before my first fumble. On the way to number five my bearing was way off and I ended up the wrong side of control six let alone anywhere near five. Six was then easy enough to find (having just come past it!) but I lost time again at seven, stopping too early. Yet more time was then lost at eight as I approached from the track in the valley below which didn’t provide a close enough attack point for such a vague control site.
Andy Powell had caught me four minutes at this point although I didn’t actually see him until number twelve. It’s not the first time I’ve raced around a course with Andy. I’m generally faster through the terrain (and the area had plenty of testing mud and brashings) but could also push the pace a bit safe in the knowledge that if I fluffed a control Andy’s superior navigation would be there to catch me.
Unfortunately on the track down to 18 I took a tumble, catching my elbow on a rock as I hit the ground. I sat in the muddy puddle for a moment to regain my composure but as I got to my feet I realised that, not only did I have blood dripping from my elbow, I had also pulled my right calf. I walked on a bit and things started to ease up. At this point I noticed that my waterproof map was smeared in mud and wished that I had picked up a bag at the start as it’s impossible to wipe it off successfully. Andy was disappearing in to the distance at this point so I set off after him. Fortunately I had caught him again by the road crossing and before we disappeared in to the dark brown area on my map!
My time of nearly 90 minutes puts me way down the results. There were plenty of mistakes in there not to mention my unscheduled stop but there is no way I could have got anywhere near GG’s 66 minutes winning time.